Stephen Greif and Jan Chappell (Blake’s 7) - Interview

March 12, 2018 | BBC Worldwide

To celebrate 40 years since the classic BBC sci-fi adventure first aired on BBC One, BBC Worldwide will be releasing Blake’s 7: The Complete Collection on DVD on March 12th 2018. Naturally, we have all the details of this new release – but we also had a chance to have a quick chat with stars Jan Chappell (Cally) and Stephen Greif (Travis) to discuss their thoughts and memories of the show. Enjoy!

Hi Stephen, hi Jan – and Happy Anniversary!

Stephen: Thank you! I don’t feel a day over forty.

Nor should you. Blake’s 7 is still being celebrated forty years on. Why do you think it’s still so popular?

Stephen: I think people have an affection for the simplicity of its sets. Y’know, we weren’t Star Wars, because we didn’t have anything like their budget. It’s homely, people can identify with it. And of course the characters were good. Any series that gets good characters in it, it’s going to succeed. You can put them in any situation, any scenario, and people will be interested.

Jan: At the time, we were told the target audience as going to be “children and dads” – something the kids could watch with their dads when they came home from work. That was 1978! I suspect they wouldn’t say that these days. But the thing is, there are whole generations now that have grown up with Blake’s 7, and the wonderful thing is when we do signing events now, we find there are Blake’s 7 grandchildren, so it’s becoming a thing where people who have memories of bonding with their dads over the show pass that on to their own children.

Stephen: And I tell you something – the people who buy this new box set are in for a treat, with all the extras that are on it. It’s something really special.

Was there a moment while you were working on it of thinking “Hello, we’re onto something here that’ll be remembered?” We’re assuming no-one goes in to any job thinking “They’ll still be talking about this forty years from now…”

Jan: Oh, no! You never go in thinking that.

Stephen: I did! I always do! (Laughs)

Jan: I think really that it’s the fans that have made it something that people are still talking about today. The tireless work of Horizon – the fan club – and then of course, the work of Big Finish, telling new stories in the Blake’s 7 world. It’s been amazing – I remember, Sally [Knyvette, who played Jenna Stannis on the show] and I went out for a meal, and this was years after the show finished, and people recognised us. Incredible, really, but it’s all down to the fans of the show.

Do you remember how you felt about how the roles developed while you were on the show?

Stephen: Well, Travis didn’t really develop at all – that was why I left. But he would have developed in a second series, which is why I changed my mind, but then I couldn’t do it. He would have developed in terms of the character.

Jan: Well of course, Cally started off much more hardline, much more of a fighter, and Sally and I got a little discontented because we were being left on the Liberator a lot, and everyone wanted to be on location, because it was almost like a little holiday from Acton, you know – a few days in a hotel somewhere – so yes, we wanted to be out and about more, more active.

Was there anything then that you’d have liked your character to do that you never got the chance to do? Anything you’d still like to have them do that Big Finish hasn’t done with them?

Stephen: No, I don’t think so. Travis wouldn’t have had a lot more to do – he would have developed more in character, but there wasn’t much more he’d have done. He wasn’t that sort of bloke. I mean a leopard can’t change its spots. But occasionally, it can change what it eats.

What were the most fun and least fun moments of being on the show?

Jan: Cold location shoots in Winter were the least fun moments. The most fun? The people, the laughs, Sally and her endless double entendres.

Stephen: Absolutely – the worst bits were stomping around in the cold, but the best bits for me were in rehearsal, where we had loads and loads and loads of laughs.

Blake’s 7: The Complete Collection is available now on DVD from Amazon.co.uk and other leading retailers.

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